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RE: starship-design: Fusion Cone Scoop
I know I am butting into the middle here, so please excuse me if I say
something already covered...
First, drag on an electromagnetic scoop: Not an issue, since the scoop is
_attracting_ the ionized atoms, it is generating a net pull against a
(relatively) stationary object. There IS NO drag, you realize acceleration
out of the scoop process instead.
Second, ionization of the interstellar medium: Requires only lasers, and
relatively low powered ones at that. See Forward et. al., too many
references to list here.
Third, ignition of fusion burn: No outside ignition source required, the
magnetic fields generated by the scoop and the velocity of the accelerated
ionized atoms create a stellerator type fusion engine (Podovsky? I'm not
sure...it was a Russian though.)
The only catch is getting the thing up to a velocity where it will work at
all, very much like an air breathing ramjet. And yes, the density of the
interstellar medium is still an issue. The lower the density, the greater
the velocity required for ignition.